Big Darby event highlights vulnerability of scenic stream
It was a hot, humid and otherwise disagreeable day. But about 70 people, including many children, turned out for a free program to explore Big Darby Creek in Plain City on Aug. 28.
The event, held at McKitrick Park on the east side of the village, was a joint effort by the Ohio DNR’s Scenic Rivers Program and the village to educate local folks about the environmental and recreational value of the creek as a state and national scenic river.
The DNR is working with the village to direct its anticipated growth in a way that will not harm the creek or its nearly 150 species of mussels and fish – many of which are rare or endangered, said Heather Doherty of the Scenic Rivers Program.
Doherty oversees the program for Central Ohio. Her area includes the Olentangy, Mohican, and Kokosing rivers, as well as Big Darby Creek.
Attendees helped net water creatures and bugs from the creek and heard Doherty and others explain the importance of these critters that serve as indicators of its water quality.
Many fear Big Darby could fall victim to expansion by Plain City. Low Madison County property taxes and the excellent Jonathan Alder School System have drawn dozens of new residents (and acres of new housing) in recent years. Dublin, Hilliard, and their upscale amenities are only about a 15-minute drive to the east.
Projections are Plain City could have 20,000 residents by mid-century. But its aging municipal water and sewage disposal systems make that anticipated growth difficult to handle. It’s a problem that must be solved with the best interests of the creek in mind, local environmentalists say.
Village recreation director Linda Grainger said events like the one on the 28th will demonstrate how important it will be to protect Big Darby as Plain City plans for growth.